National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Mary Louise Kelly said the contentious exchange took place Friday at the US State Department towards the end of an interview with Pompeo.
Much of the discussion dealt with Iran, but Kelly closed by asking Pompeo about former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted by Trump last May.
Yovanovitch’s ouster was a key event in the actions that led to Trump’s impeachment in the US House of Representatives last month.
When Kelly turned her questioning to Ukraine in the latter part of the interview with Pompeo, he said he had agreed to discuss only Iran. Kelly said she had informed Pompeo’s aides that she would ask also about Ukraine, and posed several questions, including whether Pompeo owed an apology to Yovanovitch
“Afterwards, Pompeo proceeded to shout his displeasure at being questioned about Ukraine. He used repeated expletives, according to Kelly,” NPR said in a statement.
“He asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the F-word in that sentence and many others,” Kelly said in an interview of her own with NPR later on Friday.
Kelly said Pompeo shouted at her “for about the same amount of time as the interview itself.” Pompeo then asked his aides to bring a blank map of the world and asked Kelly to show Ukraine.
“People will hear about this,” Pompeo said after Kelly pointed at Ukraine on the map, she said.
Pompeo, who has publicly attacked journalists in the past, is known for his bombast and contentious relationship with many in the State Department press corps.
Pompeo, a close associate of Trump, has been accused of personally failing to defend Yovanovitch, who was abruptly fired after being subjected to a smear campaign led by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Democrats accuse the Republican president of abusing his office by pressuring Kiev to investigate his potential election challenger Joe Biden, a charge for which Trump has been impeached and is currently facing trial in the US Senate.